Tuesday, November 8, 2011

IEPs - What They Are And What You Should Know About Them

What is an IEP? IEP stands for Individual Education Plan, a document negotiated between educators and family members or caregivers to ensure a student’s individual learning and education needs, as a result of a disability, are met in the most appropriate and accessible manner. IEP’s are normally developed on a 6-12 month timeline depending on the state or educational system you are dealing with, but can be reviewed and amended at any time as circumstances change.

That’s the formal explanation, but what does this really mean?

People who have the best knowledge and best interests of the child meet to set 2-6 educational goals based on the child’s specific needs, skills, attributes and aspirations. Where appropriate, the most important member of the team, the child, should be present at any meeting.

A successful IEP has 5 basic steps: information gathering, consultation or meeting, design of the plan, implementation and finally evaluation.

A few general notes to remember:

• An IEP should only be part of your child's curriculum. There will be other class curriculum and content that will be general to the class and the school that will not be included.

• In the spirit of inclusion, the goals of the IEP will be incorporated in general class activities wherever possible and will not necessarily require individual tasks or programming.

• As with any kind of plan, goals for your child need to be realistic, meaningful and measurable.

• Working towards the goals of the IEP across school, home and community involvements will greatly increase the success and effectiveness of the plan and the educational goals for the child.

IEP’s are a working document that can be reviewed and reassessed as needs, goals and circumstances change. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request amendments at any stage. You are always your child’s best advocate.

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